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HEAVEN--NOT WHAT YOU THINK?
When we talk about seeing our pets in “Heaven,” what are we really talking about anyway? Do they actually go to “heaven,” the very place where the throne of God Almighty is right now? Are there all kinds of animals and what-nots living with Him “up there” right now? How about earthworms and mosquitos? Or maggots and flies? And what about everybody’s favorites: rats and rodents? You know, there’s a lot of people who say they believe that all animals automatically go to Heaven when they die. But, do they really believe that? Or have they even really thought about it? Just where is it that we draw the line—or do we? I’m afraid that what most people have in mind about “Heaven” is not what it’s really all about.
Yes, there is a Heaven and yes, it is where those of us who belong to God go to be with Him when we die, and yes it is a most glorious place to be, for now. Well then—what’s the problem?
The problem is basically this. Heaven, as it is right now, is not always going to be what it is, and where it is, right now. In the beginning, when God created the “heavens and the earth” (our universe), He made this earth as the place for all His creatures to live—with Him! God Himself was here in person--right here on the earth (Gen. 3:8)—living with Adam and Eve and all the animals He had made for them to care for. And this was the way He wanted it. And He wanted it to be this way forever. And this is STILL the way He wants it to be forever!
But, then Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3) and God had to separate Himself in a very real and personal way from them and all of His creation, for it was now an unholy and a corrupted place and God cannot abide with unholiness. So now God is centered in Heaven—where His throne is (even though His Spirit is “everywhere,” i.e., Ps. 139:7-10; Jer. 23:23-24). But He STILL wants His creation to be what He originally made it to be and He STILL wants to live HERE on this earth with us all forever. And that is why He Himself paid the price for our sins so that He may redeem His entire creation and put things back the way they were in the beginning. [For how to be saved, *CLICK HERE*]
The truth of the matter, then, seems to be this. Mankind, because he was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7 etc.), is extra-special in God’s eyes and was made to have an intimate and direct, personal communion with Him. This is why human beings (those who belong to God) go to “Heaven” where God is right now, when they die (2 Cor. 5.6-8; Phil. 1:23), even though their bodies return to the dust of the earth. But when the animals die, we are never told that their souls go to be with God in “Heaven.” While we know that the physical remains of the animals also return to the dust of the earth, we are not told what happens to their “souls,” to the “breath of life” (Gen. 2:7 & 7:21-22 & Eccl. 3:19; also Gen. 6:17; 7:15), that was in them just as it is in us.
I believe this is because their souls may not actually be in “Heaven” with God. Instead, their destiny has always been tied up with the earth and they are more than likely still around this earth even after they die. Now don’t get me wrong! God loves ALL His creatures (Ps. 145:13 NIV), including all the animals and our pets, too, and even though His love for them is a different kind of love than He has for us, yet it’s still a perfect love that He has for them and it’s also without end. And even though the souls of our pets may not be in “Heaven” with God, yet they are STILL with Him anyway, for God is everywhere in the universe! And this means that no matter where the souls of our pets may be, God is there, too! God is everywhere by His Holy Spirit, for He is “omnipresent.” There is no place where He is not present (Ps. 139:7-10) and therefore wherever our pets are, He is with them, too. And if they’re with God, then you can bet there’s nothing to worry about for everything’s all right!
Stay with me, now, OK? OK, so our pets have died and their souls have left their bodies and they are still existing out there somewhere. This may even be somewhere near to us as we go about our daily lives. Who knows? Or it may be at another location of God’s own choosing. It may even be in Heaven itself (though I have my doubts). And all this may somehow help to explain what the Bible means when it says the “spirit” of the animal “goes down to the earth” while the spirit of man “goes upward,” (Eccl. 3:21). Don’t we have to somehow come to terms with this passage? Upward would seem to indicate into the “heaven” where God’s throne actually is, whereas “down to the earth” would seem to indicate otherwise. But not even this passage says anything at all about their becoming non-existent or annihilated! So why do people believe it? Not a single word is ever said that animals and pets simply turn into nothingness when they die. Even the laws of thermodynamics would seem refute that. So it really doesn’t matter where they are, for their Creator and Redeemer is with them there--wherever they have gone.
Now then, there is a time coming when this earth, as we know it, will come to an end. You may have heard of it, it’s called “the end of the world!” And when this end finally comes there will also be a Judgment Day in the which all the universe will be affected. As for mankind, our bodies will all be resurrected from the graves and the dust of the earth (John 5:28-29) and will be reunited with our souls to stand before God and give an account of our lives to Him (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-13). If we are His, we have nothing to worry about (especially if we’ve already died and our souls have already been with Him in Heaven).
But the earth and all the rest of creation must also be re-newed. There will be a massive burning (2 Pet. 3:10-13) and purging of the universe which will eradicate all the corruption from it and make it holy once again for God to return. It is at this time of “renewing” and “restoration” (Acts 3:21) that the Bible speaks of that we can expect the bodies of all the animals, including our pets, to also be raised from the dust and the ashes of earth and to be reunited with their souls, too (wherever they have been), and they will then begin to live THEIR eternal life on this “New Earth,” too, forevermore.
Now, regarding this “New Earth,” the Bible tells us there will be “a new heavens and a new earth” (Is. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). But it is not really a “new” one in the sense of its’ being a totally “different” one but, rather, it will be new in the sense of it’s being “renewed” and “restored,” as this is what the Greek word “kainos” means. God says, “Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). He did not say, “I make all new things.” And when you think about it, that’s a big difference!
So, once this earth has been made new again and all creation that has been redeemed by God is living on it once again (as He always wanted it to), we are told that God Himself will descend to this new earth, in the New Jerusalem from Heaven above, and will dwell with us all right here forever (Rev. 21:1-5). It will literally be “Heaven on earth,” just as He intended from the beginning. God is always the same. He does not change. He says, “I am the Lord; I change not” (Mal. 3:6). And since God doesn’t change, then His desires don’t change either, and that means He still desires for all His creation to live forever as He did at the start.
So, even though our pets will live forever, yet Heaven, as it is now, is not their final destination! And what’s more--it’s not ours, either. As for our souls, however, it is a temporary stop with God on the way to our eternal destination of “Heaven on earth.” It is then, I believe, that we will be with our beloved pets once again. In “Will I See Him Again? (A Look at Pets in Heaven),” especially chapter 16, Heaven and the New Earth are discussed at greater length, as is God’s desire for all of His creation to live there forever.
I hope you’ll see how this rendering of Heaven clears up some of the nagging questions and vague ideas put forth by many well-intending believers who can only see an eternal Heaven “up there” somewhere and who also fail to keep in mind the scriptures that speak of God’s redemption and reconciling of “all things” (Col. 1:15-20; Eph. 1:10) that are in “heaven and in earth,” as well as His returning to dwell with us here (Rev. 21:1-5). Some of these nagging questions and vague ideas include:
1). Why is there no mention anywhere in the Bible that animals and pets who die on earth actually go “up” to Heaven? Perhaps, it’s because they actually DON’T go to Heaven, which is actually only a temporary place for us to be with Him until the end of the age when the heavens and the earth will be purged, cleansed and resurrected. We will all return to this renewed earth to live forevermore—with God and His resurrected creation. But, not to worry, for God is with our pets in the mean time, being that He is everywhere, and everything’s all right.
2). And, as we’ve already noted, perhaps this rendering points to a better explanation of Eccl. 3:21 which says that the spirit of the beast goes “down to the earth.” It doesn’t tell us that the animal’s spirit becomes annihilated or extinct, does it? Yet many seem to interpret it that way (why, I’ll never know). Still, it doesn’t say that at all. It merely says that the spirit goes down to the earth. Why can’t it be that when their spirit (or “soul”) goes down to the earth that it is actually continuing to exist right here on the earth, somewhere? And still alive?After all, that’s what the Bible says here, doesn’t it? They certainly may be consciously “awake” for the time being, around here somewhere. Then, at the end of the earth, their “physical” remains will also be resurrected and reunited with their soul once again to live with us on the new earth.
3). Even though the Bible says that animals are “living souls,” as man is, yet many still believe that their souls are not immortal—(living on forever after they die). But if God created them to live on the earth without a soul when they were alive with us, then why can’t He do the same for them on the New Earth? All He would have to do is cause the “breath of life” to re-enter their remains, like He did the first time around. You can see why it doesn’t matter to God if they have a soul or not, can’t you? [for more on this *CLICK HERE*]
4). And perhaps this rendering of Heaven would also provide an answer for the lowest and basest forms of life on earth, as to whether they’re even suitable for Heaven to start out with. Why would Heaven’s golden streets need earthworms and spiders, for instance? They were made to do their own thing on the earth, not in Heaven! So if these lower forms all had their own “purpose” for living on the earth, then wouldn’t their own purpose continue to be fulfilled on this same earth again?
5). The Bible says that the New Jerusalem and God Himself will descend to this New Earth to dwell with us and to be our God, right here on the earth (Rev. 21:1-5)—as it was always meant to be. So why do others continue to suppose that God (and those who belong to Him) will still live in Heaven “up there” somewhere? What about the rest of the creation He’s already made? And if we’re all “up in Heaven,” then who’s going to live on this new earth? A whole new creation? Certainly God could make a whole new craetion if He wanted to, but wouldn’t it seem much more glorious for Him to redeem and revive the original creation instead?
6). Since it was God’s will and His desire for mankind to live with Him on this earth in the beginning (for that’s the way it was until after Adam and Eve sinned), and to live forever in that state, then why wouldn’t it still be His will for us to live with Him here? Remember, God tells us that He does not change (Mal. 3:6) and that He is always the same (Heb. 13:8). So if He’s the same, isn’t His will and desire also still the same? Why would He just trash the old, including all those innocent creatures who suffered so much and died for nothing that they’d ever done, and start with a whole new one instead?
7). Also, in the beginning, it was His will and His desire for man to have dominion over the rest of the earth, including all the animals (Gen. 1:26). It must be remembered that this dominion was under the dominion of God and it was only in righteousness and peace—not in killing and abusing them. It was in the working out of God’s will in harmony with them. So, again, since God doesn’t change, then that must still be His will for us—to live with and care for all His lesser creatures.
8). There are several scriptures that speak of God’s redemption through Christ pointing to the fact that He has reconciled all things in heaven and in the earth to be one with Him (Col. 1:15-20; Eph. 1:10), after He returns. What better description can there be when it comes to redeeming our pets? And what about these “all things in heaven and earth?” What happens to these “all things” when they are replaced by a “new creation” instead? Where do they go, especially when the Bible says that God has redeemed THEM, too?
There’s still a lot more that could be said along these lines, but I think you probably get my drift. Not only do those who believe in the Bible sometimes go astray concerning its teachings on Heaven, but I think many go way too far when they start falling for fairytales and make-believe stories about lands beyond the rainbow and so on, too. As long as we have the Bible, which is God’s word to us, why don’t we take it for what it is and at least have a reasonable basis for the things we believe about our pets and “Heaven?” Why should we entertain the fantasies and imaginations of others, weird, outlandish things they’ve just made up in their own minds, and then believe that’s what the truth is about seeing OUR little pets again? Don’t they deserve more than that?
Note: More discussion on the topics of Articles such as this can be found in the book, "Will I See Him Again? (A Look at Pets in Heaven)," by Tom Waldron. The book is available from Amazon.com (see home page of Mybutchie.com for link). Also, please feel free to e-mail me with any comments or whatever you may have at: